Styles: Favorite Vocal Jazz pieces (SATB and SSA)
Below you will find the compilation of responses to my query about vocal jazz
arrangements suitable for High School students SSA or SATB. Thank you!
Okay, vocal jazz high school pieces, huh? Here goes:
Mattson: What a Wonderful World - Contact Phil
Zegree: Blue Skies, Love Walked In, This Masquerade - Hal Leonard
Broadley: Walkin', Basically Blues, South of the Border - UNC Jazz Press
King Singers: Lonesome Road, Jubilee Collection
Meader: Me and Julio - Shawnee or Hal Leonard
Shaw: Operator, Dr. Jazz - Hal Leonard
We have a very large selection of jazz and pop titles. Our Contemporary A
Cappella Songbook series has many titles accessible to high school groups.
For more purely jazz I'd recommend the Blackwell/Carter "In The Mood"
songbook. For online purchasing of these see:
You probably heard at the Mattson workshop about University of Northern
Colorado Jazz Press, which few would argue is the top vocal jazz publisher
in the country. Their website and catalog separate charts by level of
difficulty, among other things. Check it out.
I have had success in recent years with:
"I've Got the World on a String"--arr. Michele Weir (UNC press)
"To Dare the Moon"--New York Voices (UNC press)
Steve Zegree stuff--can be deceptively difficult! Look at "Smile," "Blue
Skies," "Take the A Train"
"Like Someone in Love"-April Arabian-Tini
Also, look at charts by Paris Rutherford and of course Gene Puerling (his
Finally, there is some decent Kirby Shaw out there if you can weed through
the schlock that he puts out.
Victor Volna, a composer in St. Petersburg, Russia, has produced a number of
delightful arrangements mixing Russian folk songs with the vocal jazz idiom.
Musica Russica has just published 4 of them -- including both the Russian in
phonetics and a new English text composed by poet Nancy McKibben. Of the
four, "Shines the Moon" is probably the easiest (VJ 004); the other three,
"Sugar Pie," "With a weath I dance," and "Stenka Razin" (VJ 001, 002, and
003) are slightly more challenging. Sure to be a hit on any program!
I was forwarded your post, and so I'd like to contribute to your search by
letting you know what I have to offer. If you can listen to Real Audio files
on your computer, or would be able to install the program to do so, you
should visit my website, I am a composer and arranger of ensemble vocal jazz
music, some of which may be too challenging for your ensemble to tackle, but
some of which could work very well. I tend to write charts that are
contemporary-sounding, since 98% of the vocal jazz literature consists of
fairly normal arrangements of standards. And you certainly don't have to
worry about these being show choir pieces (those who know me would laugh
heartily at that last sentence, for its undersstatedness!). Let me list for
you charts that may be doable for your ensemble, and then you can give them a
listen on the website. The Website address is:
Don't You Worry Bout a Thing--A cappella, SSATB, with vocal percussion. This
is the Stevie Wonder classic from "Innervisions" arranged in a vocal jazz/pop
style. With my begginning group at The University of Kansas, it turned out
to be fun and entirely singable.
Song For the Traveler--SSATB with Electric Bass and Keyboard. This one I
reccomend because it sounds so different than anything the kids will have
sung before. It is etherial, somewhat minimalist, definitely in the vocal
jazz style, but on the contemporary side. If you've heard the music of jazz
guitarist Pat Metheny, you'll understand this tune, as it was an homage to
Christmas Time is Here--SSATBaB, A cappella--If you have a fairly good and
low bass, your group can pull off this 6 part tune, which is certainly
vocal-jazzy, and sort of challenging, but attainable to a good high school
group. It is the tune from "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
La Cucharita Sensible--SATB with rhythm section--This one has a gibberish
Spanish text, as a joke with the audience, and can be a funny spot in the
program if the translation is revealed. It is a bossanova feel, and is not
The Road To You--SSATB, A cappella--This ballad has been performed by a high
school group of 24, and it worked well for them. Only one or two rough spots
that take some learning, the rest is fairly readable.
Love Dance--SATB with Piano--A ballad that has been very well recieved by
those who have performed and heard it. A lot of voiced chords, but they are
singable. Again, one or two spots will offer challenges.
Uniquity Road--SATB A cappella--A simple and (I hope) elegant ballad chart
written on a Pat Metheny early composition. It is sung entirely on the
syllable "Doo" and is sung rubato, with some real motion to it.
These are, in my opinion, the most high-school friendly arrangments I have
done. I hope you're able to check them out online, but if you're not, I can
send you a demo CD if you send an address. If you would like to order any of
these, you can do so directly through me. The price is $50 per chart, and I
send a single copy with a permission letter to reproduce. If you get in a
bind and can't find already written stuff that works, we can talk about a
commissioned work, and I can write specifically for the needs of your group.
Just let me know how I can help!
I do have one vocal jazz arrangement I am particularly proud of. It is The
Way We Were, a cappella SATB with Hal Leonard. I would be glad to send you
a copy and a recording. Also, I did notice you were not on our mailing
list. If you would like single complimentary copies of my pieces for your
reference files, please list your position(s), the voicings you use
(school/community SATB, SATB Divisi, SSA(A), TTB/TBB, SSAB, 3 Part Mixed,
2 Part and church choir SATB, SAB, 3 Part Mixed, or 2 Part), and your
mailing address and I will send you a free package of music...also no
shipping charge. Just consider it a gift from me and an addition to your
files for future reference. Good luck with your jazz repertoire...
Portage Central High School